by Pim van Nes
Another ten days week of international baseball will start tomorrow at Pim Mulier Stadium in Haarlem. Opening game on Friday night will be between USA and Japan. On Saturday afternoon Japan will take the field against Chinese Taipei and home team the Netherlands will debut in the 27th edition of their first traditional tournament in Saturday night’s game versus USA. The tournament direction planned one game only on Sunday, considering World Cup soccer program in Brazil. Due to Dutch soccer team being defeated there last night, the reason for this baseball planning ceased.
Presently two games are planned for Monday, one on Tuesday, two on Wednesday, one on Thursday and two on Friday. After this round robin stage, on Saturday July 19 playoff games will be played between the numbers one and four and between two and three of the round robin ranking. The two winners of those playoff games will meet at Sunday afternoon’s grand finale.
This year the tournament shows only four teams to baseball fans. The latest four-team tournament in Haarlem took place in 1969. Since 1971 Honkbalweek used to invite five or six teams. Six teams participated in Haarlem in 1961, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2012. Latest title holder Cuba is absent this year, so the 27th Haarlem championship title will be for either Chinese Taipei (if so, first time), Japan (4th time), the Netherlands (4th time) or USA (5th time).
The only team that participated in every Haarlem Week is the Netherlands national team. The first time they won the tournament, however, was in 2004 and they liked it so much, that also in 2006 and 2010 the gold medal was kept in the Netherlands. In 1990 the Sullivans managed to grab the gold for the sixth time: a record high, which will not be tied this year. The selection managed by popular business man from USA Bob Sullivan won the tournament also in 1963, 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1988. His closest challenger in the Honkbalweek domain is the Red Machine from Cuba with five Haarlem championships: 1972, 1974, 1996, 1998 and 2012.
As usual many MLB scouts will attend the yearly meeting of baseball talents on Dutch territory. Honkbalweek organisation received confirmation by scouts representing Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. Accreditations were requested by several national and international photo agencies and by Dutch media, such as national broadcaster NOS and newspapers De Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad, Haarlems Dagblad and Rotterdams Dagblad.